Thailand’s Wanheng Menayothin (43-0) kept his undefeated record intact as the WBC minimumweight champion defeated his Mexican challenger, Saul ‘Baby’ Juarez (23-5-1) by unanimous decision in Chonburi, Thailand.
Juarez represented the first truly challenging title defense for Menayothin, whose previous four defenses were all highly questionable, and despite showing a lack of ‘killer instinct,’ the champion passed the test with relative ease.
In this, his fifth defense of the crown, the Thai champion took control of the bout in the middle rounds after a slow start from both men and despite Juarez’ attempts to outwork his opponent, it was the cleaner and harder punching from the champion that won the bout.
The fight began with both men circling warily and attempting to control the distance via their respective jabs. Very little connected from either man but it was Juarez who was the busier of the two and deserved the points in the opening stanza, though there was a strong case for an even round and two of the three judges agreed with such sentiment.
The second round saw Juarez land some nice left hooks to the body of the champion and the challenger took the round as he looked to outwork his opponent. The third went the way of the Menayothin as he started to land his straight right hand to devastating effect. It was this punch that would be the difference in the fight.
Menayothin began to really take control of the bout in the fourth as he pushed the Mexican challenger onto the back foot. Juarez tried hard, throwing a variety of punches at his opponent but Menayothin’s right hand started to zero in on Juarez’ head, jolting it back repeatedly. The bout included the controversial open scoring method and after four rounds the judges had scored the fight, 38-38, 38-38 and 39-38 for Menayothin.
The next four rounds saw the champion take over. He displayed a superior skill set when it came to controlling the distance and exhibited a tighter guard defensively. When Juarez threw his punches the Thai champion deflected the blows or moved out of range. He also countered very well, most often with his battering ram of a right hand, which snapped back the head of the challenger.
Through eight rounds the open scoring provided a glimpse into how the judges had scored the bout and the champion’s middle rounds had him clearly in front as all three cards were in favour of Menayothin, with scores of 77-75, 78-74 and 78-75.
With Juarez behind on points, the challenger, undoubtedly aware of his position, began the ninth with gusto. He threw some quality one-two combinations and landed a few left hooks but while Juarez won the round, the champion never looked to be in any trouble and if anything appeared to be coasting.
In the final three rounds, Juarez upped his punch output, his left hooks to the body landing cleanly but doing little damage, whilst the Thai champion continued to display an adept defensive guard and once again controlled the distance well. Menayothin landed the cleaner blows, most notably his straight hand which Juarez seemed to have little answer for. The final scores were 115-113, 116-112 and 116-113, all in favour of Menayothin.
It was a workmanlike performance from the undefeated champion who has fought exclusively in his homeland of Thailand. Juarez was a decent opponent but should the Thai native wish to become the top dog of the division he must capitalise on the victory and challenge his fellow countryman and WBA titleholder, Knockout CP Freshmart in what would be a mouth-watering match-up to decide the division’s premier fighter — Daniel Attias